It just wasn’t my day

I survived!!! It maybe not be the best way to start a race recap, but after finishing on Sunday it truly was how I felt. It really was not my day, which was a huge let down considering how well the first half of the race started. It taken me a while to write this, which may turn out to be a good thing. It’s given me sometime to reflect on what happened.

The weekend started out really well despite the really awful flight with AirTran. I’m sorry to say this about anything, but I would be perfectly happy to never fly AirTran ever again. It really was that bad. We made to San Francisco though, and got checked into the hotel with a wonderful view of the parking deck, and then headed over to the expo to pick up race numbers and have fun. It was the most confusing expo lay out ever. I ended up having to walk around the entire tent before finally figuring out where the race number pick up was, and then there wasn’t anything to do in the tent after that. I really didn’t needed the flavored oxygen, nor did I want to blend my own smoothie on a bike. So, I went over to Macy’s to check out the official apparel, and get a little something for myself.
Saturday was fun, but I ended up walking a lot more than I wanted since Mom and I couldn’t find a cable car that had room for us until we were almost to Fisherman’s Wharf. One of my roommates from Florida State lives in San Francisco, so we got together to have lunch and hang out some. Amazingly right when we were headed over to the dock for our bay tour we ran into the rest of the team! So we ended up having a great time together before heading back to the hotel (no walking this time!) for our meeting and pasta party! Walking into the pasta party is truly one of my favorite things of the weekend.
Saturday night was the first time I didn’t sleep through the night before a race. It was kind of a weird combination of nerves and fear that my alarm wouldn’t go off. The hardest part of the morning was waiting for everyone to get together for pictures before we left. It felt like it was taking forever. We didn’t head over to the start until almost 6:30am which made me a little nervous. The group I was running with got stuck trying to get to our pace group and ended up waiting with the 12:00-13:99 pace group. All I’m going to say about it is that I have never come across so many rude people in one place in my life! If no one if moving there is no room for you to go anywhere no matter how rude you are to us, we can’t let you go anywhere, and pushing us around isn’t going to get you anywhere either!
The first half of the race was great! Because there are so many people we started off at a really comfortable pace. It was so much fun running past the piers and even getting to run by bakeries as they were making sourdough bread. It smelled great! We hit the first hill coming up off of the bay and you could tell that a lot of people were not ready for them. We had to keep jumping around people so that we could keep moving. Most of us jumped up on the sidewalk. It was by far the easiest hill to get around people because the road was still wide. The second hill was really narrow! And hardly anyone ran up it. We had so many problems because people would abruptly stop right in front of us. It was just way too narrow for that many people. I almost ran right into a road block pillar because it was hidden by the people in front of me. Mile 6 brought the first of the really challenging hills. It’s actually pretty similar to one that I run all the time on Peachtree Road called cardiac hill although this one might have been a little steeper. There were two more challenging hills after that to take us up to the highest point in the race and the cliffs over looking the ocean. It was beautiful!!! And very steep, which made me a little nervous when someone in our group mentioned going faster to make up some time. I tried not to see myself falling flat on my face. It was probably the best view we had!! I was kicking myself for not bringing my little camera along for the race (and even more so after getting my official photos. More on that later).
From the cliffs we hit the Golden Gate park. The crowd started thinning out some at this point, although the crowd came and went in spurts, and there was never a big crowd until you got to the finish line. The best part of the park was the smell!! It smelled like eucalyptus! It was awesome. We split twice from the half marathoners in the park. By the time we rejoined the second time we were at mile 16 and I found my Mom right before the final split.
What happened next never crossed my mind in the weeks and months leading up to the race. The first half had gone so well (I finished 13.1 miles in just over 2:16, which was great). What was next was the great highway, which I hope was named for the view (which was great). I didn’t think it was so great at the time. The great highway took us to Lake Merced, which is a 5 mile loop, the longest 5 miles of my life. Up until mile 18 I felt really good, and then things started to cramp. Not a muscle getting a little tight, but full of cramps in my hamstrings. Once one started another one would get going. I couldn’t run anymore, so I stopped and got some salt out and my last pack of Luna moons to eat, realizing that I was going to be in big trouble later, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Things got better and I was able to start run walking around the lake all the while thinking I could still finish with a decent time. The problem with the lake is that the only people out cheering you on are the volunteers at the waterstops. It was the first time in a race that i had run by myself for such a long stretch too. It was miserable. I could have used a TNT coach, but they were all running past me in the opposite direction and ignoring me. I’ll spare you most of the details because this was a really low point in the race for me. I somehow managed to get around the stupid lake and make it back to the great highway where I came to a complete stop. Because I had eaten everything I had brought with me already I was out of energy and fuel and no way to get any. Finally a TNT coach stopped and asked if I was okay, and I told him that I needed something to eat. His reply “what do you mean you need something to eat?” I’m pretty sure it means I need something to eat, just a wild guess. Fortunately he had some sports beans that he gave me and then I saw Tommy Owens, our head coach (the other TNT coach was surprised I knew Tommy. I think he finally looked at my shirt and realized I was from Georgia. Maybe he was going through brain melt…).
It was great seeing Tommy. I wish I had looked better. To quote Tommy he said “this sucks because you’re in such great shape.” No argument from me. It did suck, and I had already gotten pretty upset over it all. And then Rob came back! Rob and I had started with the rest of the group and had fallen off at the great highway. We were both in pretty bad shape. Both of us were cramping up, and both of us were ready to be done. So we started walking and running, and even stopped to stretch (should have done that earlier!). And then a glorious sight appeared. We were at mile 25 and just a little further down the road we got our first glance at the finish line from a distance. It was all we needed. Rob started yelling at me to take us home as I took off with him behind me. Somehow we started sprinting in, picking up our Coach Joanna right before the finish were we went even faster. I almost had trouble keeping up, but there was no way I was stopping. We were finally at the finish! I grabbed Jo’s hand early in the sprint in the hopes of crossing with her and Rob, but had to let go because of the traffic in front of us. Somehow I even managed to PR (5:00:33). I really don’t feel I deserved it at all. I was so mad, confused, emotional. And then I saw the pretty blue box from Tiffany’s! It didn’t make everything better, but it at least gave me a small sense of accomplishment. I had finished!
I feel like I left a lot of myself out on the course. The memory of the great highway and the lake keeps coming back almost a week later. I’m not happy about it at all. There is some unfinished business with those two. I don’t know if it means doing the event again next year or not yet. I’ve already signed up to do a 1/2 marathon Thanksgiving day. I need to go run another race and try to get the bitter memories out of my head. I know that I can’t control how things go, but a bad race on top of not great auditions has certainly lead to some low feelings about myself. I’m also thinking about try another full in the spring. I need to check my schedule before I do anything else, and I want to get through the 1/2 marathon too and just see how things go. I’m already running again, and feeling pretty good! I’ve also started doing a lot of yoga the last couple of days which has felt amazing! Sadly last Sunday just wasn’t my day….

2 years in the making

I remember exactly where I was the day I first saw the website for the Nike Women’s Marathon. I don’t remember the exact date. It was sometime in June of 2007, and I was training for my very first Peachtree Road Race. I had done a few fun runs when I was a kid, but had never done really well. All through youth I played soccer, but never once did I consider myself a runner. I had recently gotten a pair of Nike shoes which were compatible with the NIke+ system and I was on the website checking it out. I had set up my training plan with Nike after getting the shoes, which was great because I had never learned anything about training to run all through my time as a soccer player. Looking back I probably would have been even better at soccer if I had done some endurance training before the season started. And then one Saturday it happened. I came across the site for the Nike Women’s Marathon, and I was entranced. It sounded like the coolest thing I had ever seen. A race geared towards women with a chocolate mile, foot stations, and a tiffany’s necklace as a finisher’s medal. At the time I never thought I could run a marathon, but I thought it would be really cool to run this one. There was no way I could do it that year because the race was already full, but Nike had done something very cool. They had set up a virtual half marathon for those who did not get into the race. All you had to do was sign up and get the Nike+ system so that you could upload 13.1 miles on the day of the race and in return (for a small entry fee) everyone who uploaded the correct mileage got a finisher’s shirt and a tiffany’s keychain. I had never wanted to try something so badly. I saved up and got an ipod nano and the Nike+ system, paid my entry fee, and set up a training plan to train for a half marathon.

Now, I should say that up to this point I had never run more than 8 miles. I had been training during the summer in Atlanta, my least favorite season to train, and it had been tough. I had gotten to know an old friend at church who was a runner. The day I discovered the Nike Women’s Marathon had been the day that a bunch of us from my Sunday School class had gone to a Braves game (which they lost because they always lose when I go to a game), and we started talking about running and I told her what I had found. She said that one day she wanted to run that marathon, and before I knew it this came out of my mouth, “well if you do let me know, because you might be able to talk me into doing it too.” HA! The next morning I tried out Nike+ for the first time and loved it!
I thought a lot about trying to do the race in 2008, but for various reasons I ended up running 2 different marathons that year, ING Georgia and the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Marathon. San Antonio was my first race with Team in Training, and we ended up training along side the team going to the Nike Women’s Marathon. I was so jealous! I had never wanted to do a race so badly before and right then in the middle of training I made a promise to myself. I was running the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2009 with Team in Training. No questions about it. I didn’t care if it meant turning jobs down (which hasn’t been a problem because there are no orchestra jobs at the moment) I was doing this race! There was also no question about doing the race with Team in Training. I love working with Team in Training! It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Unfortunately for our staff coordinator in meant that i started bugging her the day I saw the lottery for spots opened (I’m pretty sure she’s forgiven me, at least I hope she has). She talked me into signing up to be a mentor, which was funny because at the time I didn’t realize she was the one choosing the mentors for the Nike Team (payback for the bugging? lol).
In just 6 days I’ll be running a race I’ve wanted to do for 2 years. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet. Could it really be possible that on Sunday I’ll be in San Francisco running the Nike Women’s Marathon? Could you believe that I’ve already started packing? I’m just a little excited. Frankly, it’s hard to sit still at the moment. I have a feeling that it’s going to take a lot of focus to get through the week. Just 4 more days till we leave. I don’t know what will happen at the race. I have a time in mind that I would like to finish in, but I don’t know what will happen. There is no question that I will finish. I haven’t held my goal pace for more than 10 miles, and my long runs have been significantly slower than what I’m use to. To make things even more complicated I’ve gotten a little faster now that the weather is cooling off. It’s honestly starting t mess with my head. Saturday’s run was great despite being sick, but my average pace was 8:30 a mile. I can’t hold that for 26.2 miles. It is whatever it chooses to be that day, but one thing is for certain. On Sunday I’m running the Nike Women’s Marathon. It’s just 6 days away!!